Warriors will be no pushovers: Katsande

HARARE - Warriors captain Willard Katsande says other countries would be foolish to wish to be pooled with Zimbabwe when the draw for the 2017 Africa Cup of nations is held in Gabon tomorrow.

The Warriors, who last graced the continental football showcase in 2006, will be among the 16 teams going into the hat in tomorrow’s draw.

Zimbabwe’s extended absence on the continental stage has made them underdogs for the tournament to be held between January and February next year.

“I’m sure most of the teams will be hoping to have Zimbabwe in their group because they think we are lightweights,” Katsande told the Daily News.

“That is the same mistake Guinea made during the qualifiers as they thought since they got Zimbabwe, Swaziland and Malawi in their group, it would be easy. We showed the continent that we are a good team and qualified for the tournament with a game to spare.

“It’s the same approach we are going to take to Gabon; we are not going there to add the numbers and we will not be pushovers.”

The Warriors midfield destroyer said football is evolving and they will take courage from recent fairytales in the global game.

“Look, no one gave Leicester a chance to win the English title at the start of last season but they defied the odds,” he said.

“This season they have even started with a hundred percent record in the Champions League. It was the same thing with Portugal at the last Euros; no one gave them a chance.

“They worked hard as a team and won the tournament without their best player (Cristiano Ronaldo) injured in the final.”

However, for the Warriors to do well in Gabon next year, the Zimbabwe Football Association needs to create a proper preparation programme for the team according to Katsande.

“Preparations will be key for us at the tournament because all the teams in the competition will be serious,” he said.

“Zifa must organise one or two friendly matches for us against West African teams in November so that we acclimatise to the conditions we will find in Gabon.

“When we played Guinea in the last qualifier, it was a difficult match for us because of the hot and humid weather conditions.”

According to the draw procedure announced by Caf, the Warriors will be placed in Pot 4 together with Togo, Uganda and Guinea Bissau.

The top seeded teams in Pot 1 are Ivory Coast, Gabon, Ghana and Algeria while Pot 2 is made up of Tunisia, Mali, Burkina Faso and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Pot 3 comprises Cameroon, Senegal, Morocco and Egypt.  

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